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Some antibody tests, which check for prior Covid-19 infection, had high rates of false positives in screenings performed by a consortium of California laboratories, according to a recently released report.
A false positive means someone would be told they’d already had coronavirus when they had not – a potential danger as people could then think they were immune to the virus when they’re actually still vulnerable.
Of the 12 antibody tests that were studied by the COVID-19 Testing Project, one of the tests gave false positives more than 15% of the time, or in about one out of seven samples. Three other tests gave false positives more than 10% of the time.
“That’s terrible. That’s really terrible,” said Dr. Caryn Bern, one of the authors of the study that looked at the 12 tests. She said while it’s unrealistic to think all tests will be 100% accurate all the time, their false positive rates should be 5% or lower, or ideally 2% or lower.
“This was a real wake up call for me. We’re not at the point where any of these tests can be used reliably,” added study coauthor Dr. Alexander Marson. “There’s a big danger in relying on them at all, but we hope we get to a point soon where we can rely on these tests.”
The COVID-19 Testing Project is a consortium of researchers and physicians at the University of California San Francisco, the University of California Berkeley, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, and the Innovative Genomics Institute.
America’s largest meatpacking union warned that without increased safety measures for workers, food supply itself is at risk.
The union's warning comes after news that President Trump is expected to order meat processing plants to stay open.
Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said the union wants daily testing for both workers and their communities, access to the federal stockpile of personal protective equipment, enforcement of physical distancing at plants, and paid sick leave for infected workers to keep employees safe.
The union urged the Trump administration to lay out “clear and enforceable safety standards," including constant monitoring by federal inspectors and ensuring worker access to representation.
These workers “put their lives at risk daily to keep us fed,” the UFCW said.
“Simply put, we cannot have a secure food supply without the safety of these workers,” Perrone said.
“We share the concern over the food supply,” he said, ending with a call to leaders at all levels: “All of our country’s elected leaders — federal and state — must work together to ensure that we keep these essential workers safe and our country’s food supply secure.”
Three meatpacking facilities in the Green Bay, Wisconsin, area now account for over half of all the confirmed coronavirus cases in that county.
Of the total 920 confirmed positives in Brown County, 503 of them are either employees at or linked to JBS USA, American Foods Group, or Salm Partners, according to the county health department.
- At least 255 employees at JBS USA tested positive and 79 cases were linked to them — meaning more positive cases could be traced to spouses, friends or other close contacts.
- At least 145 employees at American Foods Group tested positive with seven linked cases.
- At least 17 employees at Salm Partners tested positive based on latest available data from the county.
All three facilities were inspected by county, state, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials, and passed inspections, according to the Brown County Health Department. JBS chose to voluntarily shut down their Green Bay plant on Sunday prior to President Trump’s executive order.
The Brown County Health Department said they are not able to prove these outbreaks are a result of conditions at the facilities and said they cannot prove that is where the spread is occurring.
US officials were part of the World Health Organization delegation that traveled to China in the early weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak, but they were not part of the group that traveled to Wuhan, a State Department spokesperson said.
According to the spokesperson, “upon arrival, the delegation traveled in groups to several locations, but Americans were not among those who traveled to Wuhan.”
It is unclear why the US officials did not travel to the city at the center of the outbreak. CNN has reached out to the State Department for clarity.
While in Wuhan, the WHO delegation visited the airport, a hospital, and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, including one of their labs.
They did not visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to a WHO visit summary. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in mid-April that “we still have not had Western access to that facility so that we can properly evaluate what really has taken off all across the world and how that began.”
Although the State Department acknowledged that Americans were part of the WHO delegation, Pompeo has repeatedly called out China for denying requests from the Trump administration to allow American scientists on the ground.
“This President and this administration worked diligently to work to get Americans on the ground there in China, to help to the World Health Organization try to get in there as well. We were rebuffed,” Pompeo said on Thursday. “The Chinese Government wouldn’t let it happen, indeed just the opposite of transparency.”
In less than three months, more Americans have died from coronavirus than the number of US service members killed in the Vietnam War, according to updated numbers from Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday afternoon.
The American death toll in the Vietnam War was 58,220, with the fighting stretching out for more than 10 years.
According to Johns Hopkins’ tally of cases in the United States, at least 58,365 people have died in the US from coronavirus in just 82 days.
The first known US coronavirus-related fatality was Feb. 6.
Minnesota's Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said he wasn’t surprised by President Trump’s proposed executive order to work to keep meat processing plants open.
Petersen said Minnesota farmers are facing a “very sobering situation” as they try to keep their plants open.
Minnesota started “depopulating” its hog and turkey populations — about 70,000 animals each week, he said.
Petersen said the state is open to anything that would get processing plants running again, but it has to be done in a way that makes workers feel safe.
“Our plants in Minnesota want to run, they don’t want to start and stop, but they (the companies) want to do it right," Petersen said.
Out of the 24 hog, poultry and turkey plants operating in Minnesota, only four of them have been closed, according to Petersen. The problem is that most of their hogs go to two of the plants that were closed in South Dakota, he said.
Wyoming will allow gyms and personal services business like hair and nail salons to reopen Friday under tight restrictions.
"These new orders start our process of getting this part of Wyoming’s economy up and running again,” Gov. Mark Gordon said.
Under the new rules taking effect May 1, gyms and salons will have to maintain social distancing and also keep contact information of all their customers to allow for contact tracing in case of a future outbreak. Gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited, including inside businesses.
In-person dining will continue to be prohibited and restaurants can only allow up to five people at a time indoors to wait for their food to be picked up. All employees in a retail businesses must wear masks.
Some businesses in North Dakota are set to reopen on Friday, Gov. Doug Burgum announced today.
Qualifying businesses, such as bars and restaurants, recreational facilities, health clubs and athletic facilities, cosmetologists, salons, barber shops, tattoo studios, tanning and massage facilities, will be asked to adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and recommendation from the North Dakota Department of Health.
These guidelines include maintaining 6 feet of distance, providing contactless payment systems and informing all employees and customers that they should avoid entering the facility if they have a cough or fever.